Youâ€™ll see it all over the web, fantasy radio shows, and even on television. Youâ€™ve heard it in the preseason, youâ€™ll year it during the season and youâ€™ll most definitely hear it after the season. There are a million clichÃ©s for it. Â EXCUSES.
Psssst…You should have NONE.
It isÂ paramount to look at the entire body of work before making predictions, or evaluating a playerâ€™s success or lack thereof during the season. It is key to take everything into account that surrounds the player in question. Was there a coaching change that could directly affect the overall effectiveness of a player due to insertion of a particular system? Did the offensive line go through any significant changes from last season? Any other personnel changes? Â Is the player an injury risk regardless of past performance or potential? Questions like this, and the answers to them can easily make all the difference in the world when evaluating any fantasy skill position.
Being ignorant to these facts can flat out bury you, plain and simple.
For example, take Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick. Sure he had a forgettable season in 2012. He made questionable decisions, multiple turnovers, had trouble staying on the field due to injury, and was an all-around disappointment. Was it due to a decline in skill? A lack of focus or drive? Bad attitude? While I will concede Vickâ€™s best days are clearly behind him, if you look at the complete picture when evaluating, the glaring reason is plain to see. Yet surprisingly this reason was largely ignored by most sports outlets. Â The rally cry was the same â€“ Vick is done, Vick is a bum.. etc.
Work your way around the league, and systematically remove the starting three-fifths of the offensive line from each quarterback in the NFL. How would they do? Would they have time to drop back, read the defense and make an intelligent decision? Or would they drop back, get hurried and get buried? I think we can agree the latter. On 90% of the Eagles passing downs, Vick was bull-rushed, the victim of 2nd and 3rd stringers on the offensive line and their collective inability to adequately protect their quarterback. His contact ratio was insane. The continual pounding he received led to injuries, turnovers and significant time off the field. His linemen were proverbial saloon-doors. LT Jason Peters, Center Jason Kelce, RG Todd Herremans tops in the league at their respective positions â€“ ALL OUT. Â Couple that with other injuries, a defense on the decline, and one can see how Vickâ€™s play could be adversely affected. The ripple effect could be felt by all the skill players on the Eagles roster.
Since Herremans, Peters and Kelce are not mentioned in fantasy circles, their absence is easily ignored and all the ire is directed at the players fantasy owners are familiar with. That is being seen in drafts all over the county. Weâ€™ve seen Vick drafted as late as the 12th and 13th rounds.
Yet, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady is going as high as the latter 2nd round in fantasy drafts this year. Never mind he has lost WRâ€™s Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and Deion Branch, as well as TEâ€™s Aaron Hernandez and could be without TE Rob Gronkowski for the early part of the season. He is basically throwing to ME. That is ranking without looking at the entire picture. Now I am not comparing Michael Vick to Tom Brady by ANY stretch of the imagination, but as much as Brady is not a smart 2nd round choice, leaving Vick until the 12th round is not overly wise either.
Why? All of the aforementioned offensive lineman are up and running for the Eagles. As a result, Michael Vick is completing 80% of his passes, has the time to find players deep, and even has the time to freelance on his own for nice gains on the ground if necessary. Earlier this week he was rightly named the Eagles starting quarterback by Head Coach Chip Kelly.
Now after feeling the wrath of fantasy owners, fantasy writers and other experts, Vick is suddenly being discussed again and his draft stock is slowly rising. All because of a change not always thought of in fantasy circles but something that MUST be considered when evaluating and ranking players.
Same can be said for not accurately evaluating an oft-injured player. It is mind-boggling to me how many times youâ€™ll hear experts hedging their bets when throwing out projections, by tossing in the â€œwell, if he can stay healthyâ€ disclaimer. Well of course!! It is a valid point of concern, but to project 14 touchdowns for a player and then throw the infamous disclaimer out there just shreds credibility. Ah, the convenience of the fantasy â€œGet Out Of Jail Free Cardâ€¦
If a player is an injury risk, EVALUATE HIM AS SUCH. With his history in mind, project less production and then if he exceeds that amount, weâ€™re all better for it. Then in 2015, with the injury concerns in the rear view mirror, you rank and project accordingly. Lose the crutch.
In short, make sure you look at not only the player, but all the things that surround the player, things that can have a positive or adverse effect on ultimate performance.
As I always say, knowledge on draft day is POWER.
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